How to cut down on plastic in your bathroom
Updated: Nov 27, 2018
Plastic became the new Holy Grail in the 50’s and bathrooms seem to be one of the rooms in most households which are still full of it. To help you explore alternative options, we have collected a list of plastic free (or nearly plastic free) products, utensils and altogether alternatives.
When you notice that you are running out of or need to replace a product, refer back to this list to find an alternative. It’s a lifestyle change that comes with its challenges, but once you know how to get your alternatives it’s as easy as brushing your teeth.
There are many recipes for DIY moisturiser and this article about using oils to moisturise skin is a good starting point. You can buy the ingredients in bulk and mix them up at home. Alternatively, if you want to ease into natural products, try brands that don‘t contain nasty additives and come packaged in glass containers, such as Mokosh. You can reuse the glass containers when you start making your own products.
Cotton pads/Face wipes
Replace your single use cotton pads or face wipes with reusable wipes. Imagine how many trees you'll save and you'll be using less plastic packaging too!
You can sew your own wipes, using old fabrics such as worn out shirts or buy them from Etsy. Go for darker fabrics as it’s likely that lipstick and mascara will leave some marks, even if you wash them thoroughly.
A lot of face cleansers are actually quite harsh and strip natural oils from your face, which makes your skin more sensitive. Instead, take a reusable wash cloth, apply water and move it in circular motion across your face. If you wear makeup, use some coconut oil and apply it in a circular motion. Then wipe it off with warm water.
Can’t live without them? Try bamboo cotton buds, locally sourced from Greenies Real Food or online from Go Bamboo Stockists.
And remember, bamboo cotton buds can be composted.
Can‘t go without makeup?
You don't have to give up makeup if you want to adopt a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
Try Etsy to buy zero waste makeup or make your own.
If you need something heavier to remove your makeup, grab a reusable face wipe and some coconut oil. Take a small amount of the coconut oil, melt it in your hands (Darwin peeps probably won’t need to melt it), apply it to your reusable cotton wipe and let it soak into your lashes (eyes closed). Then gently pull down until the mascara is completely removed.
Did you know that some exfoliators contain micro beads (small pieces of plastic) which end up in our wonderful oceans and make their way through the food chain into our bodies? But replacing them is as easy as mixing sugar or salt and an oil of your choice. If you like your exfoliator a little more sophisticated or need step-by-step instructions, try one of the two recipes on this page. Just remember to use products that you can buy in bulk or without plastic packaging.
Bamboo toothbrushes can be composted but beware, the bristles are rarely natural fibres. Snap off the head and put it in the bin and throw the handle into a compost or ram it into the ground where it will also decompose. It’s not 100% plastic free, but a good 95% and that’s better than nothing, right?
There is an alternative to plastic floss – compostable silk floss. Greenies Real Food sells this product locally in Darwin. Be sure to buy floss with as little packaging as possible.
Try a recipe with baking soda, organic coconut oil, and organic essential oil from Trash is for Tossers. Alternatively, there are charcoal toothpastes out there which come in metal tins.
If you would like to use a tongue cleaner, use a metal version, available from Biome. It will last you a lifetime if you take care of it.
Unpackaged Soap Bars
An easy way to reduce landfill waste is to use unpackaged soap bars. Check out local shops like Greenies Real Food or local markets. Look for palm oil free soaps and take a peak at the ingredient list. You’d be surprised to see how much shorter it is in comparison to some of the mass produced shower gels.
Body wash/hand wash in bulk
Soap bars are not for everyone but there is an alternative. Take your own bottle to a store that sells body & hand wash in bulk. I’ve been taking my own container to Greenies Real Food for about one year now and it’s become the new normal.
Stainless steel razor
Try a stainless steel razor – it will last you a lifetime. Haven't used one yet?
Jane from Jane And Simple Living gives you a very detailed insight into her experience on her Zero Waste Living blog. And don’t forget to swap out your shaving can for a bar of soap.
If you feel like you develop unsightly snakeskin if you don’t exfoliate, try a wooden body brush, sisal bath mitt or multi-purpose cloth. You can find them online in stores such as Biome.
The added bonus is they give your bathroom a Bali-esque spa look. How’s that for a motivation to switch to plastic free exfoliators?!
As an alternative, mix salt and oil together and use it as a body scrub.
Try coconut oil or any other oil that suits your skin as a moisturiser. If possible, refill in bulk or buy in glass containers.
Tip - Apply oils to moist skin, they will absorb much faster and don’t leave you greasy for hours.
Here's a diy deodorant recipe that uses simple ingredients such as bicarb soda, cornflour and coconut oil. You would be surprised how good natural deodorants are. Plus most of them don't use controversial aluminium, which has been linked to cancer.
Take your own container (old shampoo bottles, glass containers or metal dispensers - buy these 2nd hand if you don’t already have them) and refill it at shops that sell shampoo in bulk. If you are in Darwin, check out Greenies Real Food or Love thy Juice.
Shampoo bars are an alternative to liquid Shampoo. Just remember to buy brands that keep packaging to a minimum or even better don’t use any packaging. A lot of local shops sell handmade shampoo bars with a lot less ingredients than commercial Shampoos.
Hair brushes & combs
If you already own plastic brushes or combs, keep using them until they need to be replaced.
If you need to buy a new one, opt for wooden brushes and combs and make sure they are made with natural rubber like Brightwood brushes (bamboo & rubber).
Feminine hygiene products
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to hygiene products. You might have to try a couple of different options to find the best solution for you. Here are a couple of ideas to get you thinking.
These cups have been available for decades, but have somehow been overlooked. But that’s no wonder considering how much money has been spent in the tampon advertising space. Have a read on 1millionwomen where Sarah took Menstruation cups for a test drive.
Reusable pads are a great alternative to single-use pads, because you simply wash and reuse them. Once they are worn out, most can be composed (look for compostable materials when you buy them). Hannahpad is a brand that focuses on organic and environmentally friendly reusable pads. Or make your own upcycled pads.
Single-use pads with less plastic
If the options above are not your cup of tea, try to buy pads that use less plastic or natural plastics such as Natracare.
It‘s needless to say that the best sun protection is to limit your exposure to the sun during times when UV levels are high. The SunSmart App can help you find out when it‘s best to avoid sun exposure. The next best option is to cover up and lastly to apply sunscreen.
The brand Sun & Earth sells their sunscreen in metal containers, which you can clean and reuse for items such as spices, bobby pins or your homemade moisturiser. This brand is available at Greenies Real Food.
Most toilet paper is bleached and wrapped in plastic, but there are alternatives like Who Gives A Crap. You can buy this locally at FetchNT.
Next time you need to replace your toilet brush, go for wooden brushes with natural bristles. They will last you at least a decade and can be composted.
DIY Toilet Cleaner
Combine distilled vinegar (1 cup) and tea tree essential oil (½ teaspoon) in a small spray bottle. Spray vinegar mixture inside bowl, on toilet seat, lid, and handle. Allow it to sit for several minutes. Sprinkle baking soda (½ cup) inside toilet bowl and scrub inside of bowl with a toilet brush. Use a reusable cloth to wipe vinegar solution off seat, lid, and handle.
Words by: Sylvia Streichhan
Anything missing from this list? Connect with the WasteFreeNT Community Group on Facebook to chat with like-minded people.